How Can Brownfield Strategy Help Legacy Companies in Cloud Migration?


Enterprises across all industries today view cloud computing as a key enabler of business transformation. Organizations are migrating to the cloud to improve customer engagement, forge new partnerships, save costs, and gain a competitive advantage. However, migrating apps to the cloud is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution.

For large and multi-faceted companies, replacing the entire system is not a feasible task and they must consider different migration methods. Choosing between Greenfield Migration and Brownfield Migration (also referred to as Brownfield Strategy) has always been an area of contention. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks. With the Greenfield approach, everything – data, operating systems, applications – is created from scratch and then moved to the new infrastructure. In Brownfield migration, many functions of the previous environment are retained, especially those that are difficult to recreate. Many of the proprietary systems, critical data, and information are also kept on the on-premise infrastructure.

In a nutshell, Greenfield migration approach entails starting from scratch. However, with Brownfield migration approach, one can take advantage of the old systems via a process known as selective migration. This leads to limited business disruption. We have already covered Greenfield migration in detail – read the complete blog here.

In this article, we will be focusing on Brownfield Migration. Let’s start by acknowledging the pros and cons of this approach.

Pros of Brownfield

  1. Familiar, as it is built on existing legacy components. Meaning, users will be accustomed with a considerable part of the infrastructure.
  2. Cost effective, as migrating everything at the same time to the cloud can be highly expensive. Also, system usage is easier to estimate, so costs regarding cloud infrastructure can be easily estimated.
  3. Simple, as nearly every application can get built into a docker container and deployed to the cloud with this approach.
  4. Allows you to move your sub-systems in a methodical manner.

Cons of Brownfield

  1. Retains limitations of the original infrastructure.
  2. Rigid, the biggest advantage with cloud is that you can scale at will. The biggest limitation with on-premise systems is that you must purchase when you need more computing capacity, but when you don’t need that much, the resources stay under-utilized. Sometimes your software too is not made to be scalable!

So, we have explored the pros and cons of Brownfield Migration, but why one should adopt this approach? Nobody wants to start from zero, and this pushes companies towards a mix of both old and new systems. A large number of companies founded in the last few years have aligned their business objectives with cloud computing right from the start. However, legacy companies and even organizations founded in the last decade are thriving on traditional infrastructures. There is no resistance from companies when it comes to cloud as leaderships are aware of the benefits and advantages it brings for the organization. The mindset to not let go of anything that is working fine and align new systems with old ones has led the wider usage of Brownfield Strategy.

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